Field Service Reimagined

Dwayne Parkinson
Oct 26, 2022 9:34:00 AM

From a Field Service perspective, Amazon has it easy. They ship out products as fast as they can. If something goes wrong, there are relatively simple streamlined processes for returns and refunds. Now imagine what would happen if Amazon built roads or hospitals, or installed elevators or French doors in houses. Before we dive into that a bit deeper, let’s look back just a few years.

Most of us are old enough to remember “please allow 4-6 weeks for shipping and handling.” That phrase embodies the catalog ordering and TV ad world before Amazon and other online retailers disrupted the entire consumer shopping industry. It’s strange how literally every company and every customer accepted 4-6 week deliveries as the standard way of doing business yet today, 4-6 week deliveries are unheard of. What happened?

At a very high level, product delivery became a competitive advantage for online stores. As online stores disrupted the brick-and-mortar shopping model, the Internet suddenly became awash with virtual stores. Product delivery became one way for stores to differentiate themselves in the online world where shelf space was plentiful and cheap, and many stores were selling the same product. After all, why would I buy a bestselling book from store #1 instead of store #2? The book is the same price in both stores, but store #1 ships it faster.  Store #1 realized that streamlined product delivery was an advantage.  A few decades later Store #1 sells everything from books to yodeling pickles (for real).

It's worth considering whether the traditional way of dealing with complex high touch Inspections and Field Service may be the next “4-6 weeks for shipping and handling.”  It's quite likely that in a global marketplace where competition comes from anywhere across the planet, streamlined and improved Field Service will become a differentiator that forward looking organizations can use to set themselves apart.

Let’s look at a simple Field Service example to show the real impact streamlined Field Service can have.  In our example, a door manufacturer built and shipped a French Door to a job site where a new home is being constructed. The builder installed the door in the house, and everything was fine until the appliances got delivered. The appliance delivery team brought the new refrigerator through that expensive French Door and managed to break the glass. What happens next?

The traditional Field Service model is that the builder calls the door manufacturer. Someone at the manufacturing company creates a Field Service Request. A separate request is sent via e-mail to some 3rd party field service provider to get someone to go to the jobsite and gather replacement part information because the manufacturer can’t afford to have service technicians scattered across the entire country waiting for doors to be broken.

The field service provider then assigns one of their technicians to go to the jobsite. At the jobsite the technician takes pictures and makes a list of components that will be needed to repair the door. The technician goes back to the office and updates the Field Service Request e-mail with the best guess at the list of repair parts, materials and pictures.  The e-mail gets sent back to the manufacturer and a replacement parts order is created.  The manufacturer sends the replacement order to the shop floor to build the replacement parts.  The parts are shipped, and the field service provider is notified of the shipment and expected arrival date via e-mail.  The parts arrive at the jobsite and the technician returns to the jobsite, assuming they have scheduled the work, and the repair gets completed. 

Throughout the entire process, the builder had no visibility into what was happening.  The manufacturer and field service provider were hoping e-mails went through and neither had visibility into what was going on with the other.  Whew.  What a process!

Now let’s reimagine that process as if Amazon were doing the Field Service. The builder pulls up the order on a phone.  From the order, the builder clicks on “Field Service Request” and snaps a picture or two to attach to the request. The manufacturer reviews the request and photos of the damage.  They approve the repair and determine the parts needed.  A parts order is automatically created and linked to the request.  Delivery is scheduled and the field service provider is notified to confirm availability on the delivery date of the replacement parts.

For the builder, field service provider and manufacturer, the status of the request is readily available as it is updated from statuses like “Approved – Pending Replacement Part Shipment” to “Repair Scheduled – Parts enroute” "Repair Complete" along with dates that are always correct. The parts arrive as scheduled, and the technician arrives to repair the door.  Finally, the Field Service Request is marked complete.

Importantly, the builder had real time data to track the status of the repair and communicate it to his client at any time without making calls or sending e-mails and being forced to say “I’ll get back to you.” Dates and statuses were always visible to the builder with all changes instantly communicated.

It’s not hard to see, that the streamlined Field Service model made the process easier for the builder, field service provider and manufacturer, but it also improved the image of the builder to the end client.  It improved the image of the field service provider to the builder and it ultimately improved the image of the manufacturer to everyone. 

From this example, it’s easy to see how Field Service can become a strategic advantage for a door manufacturer.  The same model of streamlined Field Service that helped the door manufacturer, can provide a competitive advantage for many companies with “high touch” Field Service requirements. These companies build everything from roads and bridges to houses, sprinkler systems, tractors, and railroad engines.

If we take a lesson from how streamlining and modernizing the product delivery process impacted and ultimately completely disrupted consumer sales companies, it’s not hard to see how streamlining and modernizing Field Service can be one of the most valuable things to set door company #1 apart from door company #2 in the future.  At TEAM IM, we have a suite of products which enable companies with high touch Field Service and Inspection requirements to deploy customized streamlined processes that can set them apart within their respective industries. Let us show you how we have helped companies with everything from ongoing quality checks and inspections to Adhoc field service requests. Together we can reimagine your Field Service and Inspection processes and turn them into a strategic advantage.

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